Hamilton’s approximately 900 public transit workers will vote this week on a new contract.
The weeklong strike ended Thursday, three days before the Grey Cup.
The post-strike deal is similar to the City’s October “Final Offer“, with a one-time one-year health spending account increase, an increase to tool allowances for skill trades, increased bereavement leave, and the retention of operator shuttle buses.
Union members will receive a $750 signing bonus if the contract is ratified.
During the weeks leading up to the strike both the union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107, and the City of Hamilton stated wages were the critical issue.
Last week’s press conferences from both sides focused on the wage issue.
In this context, it is surprising the tentative agreement sees no movement on wages.
No Changes To Wages
The tentative agreement wage offer is the same as the offer the City made before the strike.
The wage increase is the same amount that CUPE 5167 accepted in its contract: 3.75 percent for 2023, and 3 percent in 2024, 2025 and 2026.
HSR transit employees health care spending accounts will be $2000 in 2024, a one-time increase of $1000. Spending accounts will return to $1000 in 2025.
Ratification Vote Pending
ATU members must ratify the contract. Workers have sought stronger contract gains after the pandemic and inflation.
Recent talks between the Detroit Three auto companies (General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler) and the Canadian auto workers resulted in new contracts with the most significant gains for workers in decades.
Despite a good contract, strongly endorsed by union leaders, Canadian Ford auto workers barely approved their new contract with a 54 percent ratification vote.
Public Support as a Voting Consideration
HSR workers enjoyed good public support during their one-week strike.
Public sentiment on social media platforms was sympathetic to worker demands for wage increases similar to what the City of Hamilton gave to its managers and non-union workers.
City Hall took an aggressive communications posture against the Union, accusing it of spreading “misinformation” and “directing public anger at an individual female employee of the City of Hamilton” because the Union noted the pay increases given to the City’s lead negotiator, the Executive Director of Human Resources.
What would be the public sentiment if HSR workers reject the tentative agreement recommended by their union executive?
Production Details v. 1.1.0 Published: November 20, 2023 Last edited: November 20, 2023 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version v. 1.1.0 CORRECTED headline. One-Time Increase to Benefits, original stated wages